Based on a play based on a book, this is Tim Blake Nelson's harrowing look at the innerworkings of moral issues within a concentration camp. The story is focused on a group of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz who are tasked with cleaning out the ashes of their dead comrades from the crematoriums. When they realize they are next on the list to die, they decided to have an uprising.
This is some very hard stuff to watch, but it is also phenomenally amazing. It finds the right note between exploitative and overly emotional sentimentality, and despite being something hard to watch, it's also very hard to look away.
The films boasts a talented cast who all give some really good performances. Well, okay, Keitel's accent is a bit iffy, but he's great at being a really cruel antagonist. David Arquette is surprisingly really good in a dramatic lead role, and it's nice seeing him step away from comedy once in a while. Other supporting roles are filled by the likes of Natasha Lyonne, Mira Sorvino, and Steve Buscemi among others.
It's up there with Schindler's List and The Pianist as some of the best films about the Holocaust, and the direction is hauntingly effective. This isn't an uplifting film as you might have guessed, but it does really give you a lot to think about, mostly because of the issues it raises.
Give this one a watch. It's something quite special.